IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT PATNA Letters Patent Appeal No.661 of 2011 In (CIVIL WRIT JURISDICTION CASE 5625/2008) 1. Sri Ram Kumar s/o Sri Ram Sewak Mandal, resident of village- Dohat Narayan, P.S. Baheri, District- Darbhanga 2. Mr. Dilip Mahto s/o Late Ram Govind, resident of village- Amta, P.S. Baheri, District- Darbhanga ...Appellants. Versus 1. The State Of Bihar. 2. The Principal Secretary, Human Resources Development Department (Education), Government of Bihar, New Secretariat (Bihar Bhawan), Patna. 3. The Director Primary Education, Government of Bihar, New Secretariat (Bihar Bhawan), Patna. 4. The State Project Director, Government of Bihar, Patna. 5. The Director, Panchayat Raj, Government of Bihar, Patna. 6. The Deputy Development Commissioner, Darbhanga Division, Darbhanga. 7. The Collector, Darbhanga. 8. The District Superintendent of Education, Darbhanga. 9. The Block Development Officer, Baheri, P.S. - Baheri, District- Darbhanga. 10. The Block Education Extension Officer, Baheri, P.S. Baheri, District- Darbhanga. 11. The Gram Panchayat Raj Dohat Narayan , Block- Baheri, P.S. Baheri, District- Darbhanga through its Panchayat Secretary. 12. The Mukhiya, Gram Panchayat Raj, Dohat Narayan, Block- Baheri, P.S. Baheri, District- Darbhanga. 13. The Panchayat Secretary, Gram Panchayat Raj Dohat Narayan, Block- Baheri, P.S. Baheri, District- Darbhanga. 14. Umesh Mandal S/o Sri Ram Autar Mandal, resident of village Madhuban, Gram Panchayat- Dohat Narayan Block Baheri, PS Baheri District Darbhanga 15.Binod Lal Deo S/o Late Dadan Lal Deo resident of village Madhuban, Gram Panchayat- Dohat Narayan Block Baheri, PS Baheri District Darbhanga 16. Rajesh Kumar, S/o Sri Jibachh Singh, resident of village Madhuban, Gram Panchayat- Dohat Narayan Block Baheri, PS Baheri District Darbhanga 17. Rohit Mochi, S/o Sri Jiwan Mochi, resident of village Madhuban, Gram Panchayat- Dohat Narayan Block Baheri, PS Baheri District Darbhanga 18. Mritunjay Kumar, S/o Sri Narayan Prasad, resident of village Dohat Narayan, Gram Panchayat- Dohat Narayan Block Baheri, PS Baheri District Darbhanga 19. Ram Pravesh Singh, S/o Sri Dani Singh, resident of village Dohat Narayan, Gram Panchayat- Dohat Narayan Block Baheri, PS Baheri District Darbhanga 20. Mr. Pramod Kumar s/o not known, resident of village - Madhuban, P.S. Baheri, District- Darbhanga ......Respondents ---------------------
For the Appellants: Mr. Chitranjan Sinha, Sr. advocate Mr. Sidharth Prasad, advocate For the State: Sri Rajiv Roy, G.P. 5 Mr. Arun Kumar, AC to GP 5 For the Respondents: Mr. Rajendra Prasad Singh, Sr. advocate Mr. Rakesh Kumar Singh, advocate Mr. Onkar Kumar, advocate Mr. Navjot Yeshu, advocate 2 7 02-09-2011 Heard the parties.
The Writ petition bearing CWJC no.
5625/2008 preferred by six persons who are respondents in this appeal has been allowed by the writ court by order under appeal dated 31-3-2011. As a consequence the writ petitioners have been reappointed to the post of Panchayat Teacher in Gram Panchayat Raj Dohat Narayan, Baheri in the district of Darbhanga.
Both the appellants were also applicants for the post of Shiksha Mitra in the year 2005. That post has been now re-designated as that of Panchayat Teacher and the incumbents of the post of Shiksha Mitra were allowed to continue as Panchayat Teachers. Soon after selection was made by the competent body, the Sukh Subidha Samiti of the concerned Panchayat, the appellant no.1 raised objections and filed representation before the various authorities and he also preferred a writ petition in this court bearing CWJC no. 9728/2005. By order dated 8-8-2007 3 contained in annexure-5, the High Court disposed of the writ petition by giving opportunity to the appellant no.1 to file representation before the Collector, Darbhanga who was directed to enquire into the grievance and dispose of the same within three months by a reasoned order. Appellant no.1 thereafter approached the Collector leading to institution of Misc. case no. 85/07-08 which was disposed of by the Collector on 19-2-2008 (annexure-7). He found that there was apparent overwriting and interpolations made in the application form of the appellant no.1 and also at some other places and that persons having secured higher marks were treated as disqualified on grounds which did not find favour with the Collector and, hence, he set aside the appointments and directed the concerned Block Development Officer to get evaluation of candidature of applicants again. The Block Development Officer, on the basis of marks, made a fresh selection vide annexure-11 and as a result the two appellants, three of the writ petitioners and one another person,altogether six persons were selected and 4 appointed. The appellants gave their joining on 10-9-2008.
In the meantime, the writ petition in question was already filed by the writ petitioners against the order of the Collector dated 19-2-2008 and that has been allowed by the order under appeal dated 31-3-2011.
The writ court has indicated three reasons for interfering with the order of the Collector. Firstly, it has been held that under the relevant rules of 2006 Statutory jurisdiction had been created to deal with such disputes in the Block Development Officer and hence, the Collector acted in violation of Statutory provisions in setting aside the appointments himself. Secondly, it has been held that the decision of the Collector was in violation of principles of natural justice because no notice was given to the writ petitioners before deciding the dispute. Lastly, the court has taken the view that the dispute related to appointment to the post of Shiksha Mitra which was no longer in existence by the time the dispute came to be 5 decided and, therefore, steps taken for fresh selection after the posts of Shiksha Mitra ceased to exist were against law.
On behalf of the appellants, it was argued that the Collector would have the entire necessary jurisdiction in view of direction given by this court in the order dated 8-8-2007 (annexure-5). It was further submitted that since the entire selection process came under cloud and investigation, it was not necessary to give individual notice to the persons affected, that is, the writ petitioners. Lastly, it was submitted that the change brought in the nomenclature of the post by rules of 2006 cannot be permitted to defeat the rights of the appellants, particularly, when appellant no.1 preferred not only complaints before the authorities but had also preferred writ petition before this court as far back in 2005. In other words, it has been submitted that delay in decision on account of pendency of dispute before this court or on account of its order should not be permitted to prejudice the case of the appellants. On facts also learned counsel for the appellants tried to 6 convince us by referring to the application of appellant no.1 and the evaluation chart of applicants available as annexure-2 series in support of his contention that some members, particularly, the Mukhiya and Panchayat Secretary who alone have signed on the evaluation list committed interpolations and overwriting over the application of appellant no.1 and may be upon applications of others so as to disqualify persons of higher marks in order to facilitate the selection and appointment of persons with lower marks.
In reply learned Senior counsel appearing for some of the writ petitioners strongly refuted the contention in respect of interpolation or overwriting by any of the members of the Sukh Subidha Samiti. According to him applications of as many as 18 candidates were rejected because of valid reasons in the light of notification and decision of the State Government contained in resolution no. 1458 dated 11-8-2004 pertaining to Human Resources Development Department, Government of Bihar. He 7 reiterated the reasons mentioned by the writ court in support of all the three grounds which had led to allow the writ petition and set aside the order of the Collector.
Learned counsel for the State submitted that the Collector pursuant to order of the writ court could have held only fact finding enquiry and he over stepped and interfered with the statutory jurisdiction of Block Development Officer in cancelling the appointments of the writ petitioners. According to him the Collector should have sent his enquiry report to the Block Development Officer for consideration and necessary decision because the rules vest such jurisdiction in the Block Development Officer. He further submitted that number of affected persons was not very large and, therefore, the Collector should have noticed them and granted opportunity of hearing before taking adverse decision. He also supported the 3rd ground mentioned by the writ court regarding non existence of post of Shiksha Mitra.
Although a number of documents and 8 annexures were cited and relied upon by counsels for the parties relating to merit of the allegations that there was overwriting and deliberate interpolations in order to reject the candidature of appellant no.1 and of some others, in view of order proposed we are not entering in the merits of such contention. In respect of issue relating to jurisdiction of the Collector, we are in agreement with the views of the learned counsel for the State that under the orders of this court, the Collector should have only held a fact finding enquiry and thereafter should have left the matter for decision by the competent authority, the Block Development Officer. We are also in agreement that the order of the Collector is vitiated on account of violation of principles of natural justice. So far as 3rd ground is concerned, it is an issue of significance which is involved in several writ petitions and Letter Patent Appeals pending before this court. Hence, in view of our proposed order, we leave the issue open to be decided at appropriate stage in the light of law laid down by this court in other cases, if required. 9
In our considered view, once the writ court found the order of the Collector vitiated on account of defect in jurisdiction and on account of violation of principles of natural justice should have either remitted the matter before the concerned authority who is now the District Teachers Appointment Appellate Tribunal, Darbhanga or should have given opportunity to the concerned parties including the appellants to approach the said Tribunal for adjudication in accordance with law.
There was some dispute as to whether the writ petitioners in whose favour fresh appointment letters have been issued on 9-5-2011 had joined their posts before the stay order passed by this court on 11th May, 2011. We do not propose to enter into that controversy because now we have decided the matter finally. There is no dispute that fresh appointment letters in favour of the writ petitioners have already been issued and, hence, unless a fresh decision is taken by the competent authority, writ petitioners shall continue to work on the post of Panchayat Teacher in 10 question. However, we modify the order of the writ court only to the extent that appellants shall be at liberty, if so advised, to approach the District Teacher Appointment Appellate Tribunal, Darbhanga for redressal of their grievance, if any. We make it clear that the Tribunal shall be at liberty to decide whether appointments can be or could have been made on the post of Shiksha Mitra on account of conversion of such posts into the post of Panchayat Teacher pursuant to rule of 2006. In case the appellate authority is approached by any of the appellants, it is expected that it shall decide the dispute expeditiously, preferably, within four months after giving notice of hearing to the writ petitioners.
The appeal is disposed of with the aforesaid modification in the order of the writ court.
(Shiva Kirti Singh, J.) (Shivaji Pandey, J.) BKS/-